On my recent trip to Arches National Park,
I took a detour along the way. Rather than just I-15 to I-70, then down US 191, I cut through the Blue Highways of interior Utah: UT-20, US-89, and UT-24, through Capitol Reef National Park. This added about one hour of driving time, not counting stops, of course. But, despite my numerous trips in Utah, I never made it to Capitol Reef. Well, other than along I-70, which cuts through the same Waterpocket Fold, but north of the park.
Capitol Reef National Park runs a long a good long strip of that fold, so it's a long, skinny national park. Driving west to east on UT-24 going to let me see very much of it, but at least I'd be able to get a taste. Might plan for another visit here, down the road.
By staying in Cedar City the previous night, and planning only an after-midnight hike in Arches, I knew I'd have plenty of time if I wanted to take a hike or two in Capitol Reef.
I was a little concerned that the scenic route to get here would leave me without any rest areas, but it turns out Utah has placed numerous porta-potty and vault toilets along the route. There are numerous public access points to public lands for fishing and what not along the way. Also, there was Butch Cassidy's Boyhood home. Unfortunately, the only shots I took of that were with my cell phone, and now I currently have no USB type-c plugs to download pictures from my phone on to my computer.
Yeah, it turns out my kittens (now probably 9-12 months old) like chewing on those thin, plastic-coated wires. They taken out numerous USB plugs, several fitbit chargers, and a few power cords. Most were not plugged in, and I guess those that were had low enough amperage that they didn't get a shock strong enough to learn not to do this.
There was also a visitor information stop, in a small, pre-fabricated building in Torrey, the gateway town, just west of Capitol Reef National Park. Convenient, as I was needing to pee around then. I had even earlier driven to a town park on the west side of town, thinking for sure there'd be a restroom there. Nope.
The Wayne County Travel Council building was out past the east side of town, just where UT-12 drops south from UT-24. The lady at the visitor center was friendly and helpful. She seemed to know the park pretty well, at least the part I could get to in my Prius. She did, for example, know that the dirt road to Cassidy Arch was Prius-accessible. :D
The only significant trail I took in the park was this one. It seemed symmetrical, since I had visited Cassidy's boyhood home, earlier that day (this arch is also named after Cassidy, though I don't know if he ever actually visited).
I also stopped at several road-side views, so I may later post some petroglyph and pictoglyph photos, later. I had initially planned to also hike Hickman Bridge, but decided after the petroglyphs I was getting hungry enough that I'd be starving by the time I got to Moab, even without the second hike. Yes, silly, but this was sort of a bonus destination. I didn't really research it as well as I should have. Didn't really research other Moab-area attractions, either. I may get into that in a later post, too.
From UT-24, head south on the scenic drive (narrow but paved road) past the park visitor center, about three miles. There's was an unmanned fee station a mile or so down the road. Since I already have the Public Lands Recreation Pass, I figured I didn't need to stop, though I kept the pass handy, if I ran across any rangers.
After about three miles, there's a signed dirt road on the left. Well, it's not immediately dirt, but it turns to dirt quickly. Just over a mile on this well-graded road (no problem, unless it's raining or flooding, I assume), there's a small parking area. This is also the starting point to Grand Wash trail, which has a narrows, about 1.5 miles down the way. Apparently, that's the more popular destination. I would estimate less than 1/4 of the hikers turned left when the arch trail headed that way, just 1/4 or so down the wash.
From the wash, the arch trail swiftly climbs the cliff, and, once you more or less level off, you parallel back, above the road, heading west. I could spot my car in the lot. In the cropped view of the shot, above, it's the ninth from the bottom, on the left.
Nice views, both along Grand Wash, and over the exposed, rolling hills of sandstone and gypsum. It looked a lot like the high country of Zion National Park. Even some checkerboard-ed areas.
After maybe 3/4 of a mile of mostly level, you get your first views of Cassidy Arch. It's set back, and does not burst upon you. Heading there, the approach seemed to take longer than expected Quite a lot was across exposed rock, with only the occasional duck of rocks to guide you. Still mostly a walk, though you should stop occasionally to make sure you're on the right path.
Finally, you're there, and, yeah, it's a pretty good way down.
The arch itself must be 10 or 15 yards wide, and walking over the arch is not scary. Hanging over it would be, though, as it's probably 100 feet or so down, to the base of the arch.
There's an anchor on the west side of the arch, where people occasional tie on to, then rappel down the chute. A website I came across says it's a 140 foot rappel from there to the first step, then another 140 foot rappel after that, before it becomes a walk-down.
That means if you're walking up from the dirt road, you'll not be able to get actually beneath the arch.
As is often the case, the return hike from the arch to the car seemed a lot shorter than the hike from the car to the arch. It was also easier to enjoy the rock tops with the sun at my back, and gravity on my side. Back to the car, then drove on out the park, stopping for the petroglyph/pictoglyph panel.